Charles Dickens, Bleak House: Ch. 34

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"Now, George," said Mrs. Bagnet briskly, "here we are, Lignum and myself"—she often speaks of her husband by this appellation, on account, as it is supposed, of Lignum Vitae having been his old regimental nickname when they first became acquainted, in compliment to the extreme hardness and toughness of his physiognomy—"just looked in, we have, to make it all correct as usual about that security.  Give him the new bill to sign, George, and he'll sign it like a man."

"I was coming to you this morning," observes the trooper reluctantly.

"Yes, we thought you'd come to us this morning, but we turned out early and left Woolwich, the best of boys, to mind his sisters and came to you instead—as you see!  For Lignum, he's tied so close now, and gets so little exercise, that a walk does him good.  But what's the matter, George?" asks Mrs. Bagnet, stopping in her cheerful talk.  "You don't look yourself."

"I am not quite myself," returns the trooper; "I have been a little put out, Mrs. Bagnet."

Her bright quick eye catches the truth directly.  "George!" holding up her forefinger.  "Don't tell me there's anything wrong about that security of Lignum's!  Don't do it, George, on account of the children!"

The trooper looks at her with a troubled visage.

"George," says Mrs. Bagnet, using both her arms for emphasis and occasionally bringing down her open hands upon her knees.  "If you have allowed anything wrong to come to that security of Lignum's, and if you have let him in for it, and if you have put us in danger of being sold up—and I see sold up in your face, George, as plain as print—you have done a shameful action and have deceived us cruelly.  I tell you, cruelly, George.  There!"

Mr. Bagnet, otherwise as immovable as a pump or a lamp-post, puts his large right hand on the top of his bald head as if to defend it from a shower-bath and looks with great uneasiness at Mrs. Bagnet.

"George," says that old girl, "I wonder at you!  George, I am ashamed of you!  George, I couldn't have believed you would have done it!  I always knew you to be a rolling stone that gathered no moss, but I never thought you would have taken away what little moss there was for Bagnet and the children to lie upon.  You know what a hard-working, steady-going chap he is.  You know what Quebec and Malta and Woolwich are, and I never did think you would, or could, have had the heart to serve us so.  Oh, George!"  Mrs. Bagnet gathers up her cloak to wipe her eyes on in a very genuine manner, "How could you do it?"

Mrs. Bagnet ceasing, Mr. Bagnet removes his hand from his head as if the shower-bath were over and looks disconsolately at Mr. George, who has turned quite white and looks distressfully at the grey cloak and straw bonnet.

"Mat," says the trooper in a subdued voice, addressing him but still looking at his wife, "I am sorry you take it so much to heart, because I do hope it's not so bad as that comes to.  I certainly have, this morning, received this letter"—which he reads aloud—"but I hope it may be set right yet.  As to a rolling stone, why, what you say is true.  I AM a rolling stone, and I never rolled in anybody's way, I fully believe, that I rolled the least good to.  But it's impossible for an old vagabond comrade to like your wife and family better than I like 'em, Mat, and I trust you'll look upon me as forgivingly as you can.  Don't think I've kept anything from you.  I haven't had the letter more than a quarter of an hour."

"Old girl," murmurs Mr. Bagnet after a short silence, "will you tell him my opinion?"

"Oh!  Why didn't he marry," Mrs. Bagnet answers, half laughing and half crying, "Joe Pouch's widder in North America?  Then he wouldn't have got himself into these troubles."